Germany Probes Nazi for Massacre of Ukrainian Jews

German prosecutors launched investigation into man suspected of taking part in a massacre of over 300 Jews from Zhytomyr ghetto in Ukraine.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Remembering the Holocaust
Remembering the Holocaust
Israel news photo: Flash 90

German prosecutors have launched an investigation into a 91-year-old man suspected of taking part in a 1942 massacre of over 300 Jews from the Zhytomyr ghetto in Ukraine, a local daily reported Monday.    

"There is suspicion that this man is guilty of involvement in the murder of 360 people," spokeswoman Petra Hertwig for the Cottbus prosecutor's office told the Markische Allgemeine daily, according to the AFP.

"We're looking into whether there is also material for other investigations," she added, without revealing details.   

The man, referred to only as Herbert N., belonged to the SS commando suspected of having killed Jews, including women and children, from the Zhitomir ghetto.   

In October 1942, 60 Jews from the ghetto were driven in trucks to a forest approximately 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Zhytomyr in central Ukraine, where six German soldiers killed them and tossed their remains into a mass grave.   

The following month 30 other soldiers from the commando massacred 300 more Jews in similar circumstances by shooting them in groups of 60, according to the daily.   

One of the major obstacles facing the investigation lies in the difficulty of rounding up witnesses 70 years after the massacre. The first witness to report the slaughter in 1947 was a prisoner of war in the ex-Soviet Union and died in 1971.

In 1985, the prosecutor's office in the western city of Wiesbaden abandoned proceedings against the head of the unit responsible for the massacres amid doubts over the truth of witness testimony, according to the AFP.  

Herbert N.'s name first surfaced when the state body tasked with uncovering Nazi criminals was searching for witnesses in another case.